The Best Texas Songs of All Time: #100-80
Willie and Waylon
"Between the Hank Williams pain songs And Jerry Jeff's train songs And blue eyes cryin' in the rain Out in Luckenbach, Texas Ain't nobody feeling no pain" - Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, "Luckenbach, Texas"
With that introduction, welcome to the first in a five-part series, in which we attempt to both quantify and qualify our 100 favorite Texas songs. We left it pretty wide open: The artist had to be born or based in Texas for a significant amount of time, but other than that, it could be any genre, era or city. Despite our one-up spirit in several of the bigger Texas cities, our state really is just one big yard separated by different driveways, isn't it? We've all got our stories, our secret and not-so-secret histories, the songs that define us, and that is ultimately what ties us together.
Over the next week, we'll be doling out these songs we picked. I know the knee-jerk reaction is to look at the rankings and nitpick, but they're rather arbitrary. Hopefully we can turn you on to an artist you've never heard, or at least inspire some dialogue. I'm sure you will tell us what we're missing, too.
Oh, and you can listen to a Spotify playlist of some of the songs here. Enjoy. - Audra Schroeder
100. Tripping Daisy, "Sonic Bloom" Before this album, the band had a grunge-pop affectation, but this song, from 1998's Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb, was more heartfelt than anything they'd done before. - Daniel Hopkins
99. Pleasant Grove, "The Plaque at 16ft" Bret Egner wrote "The Plaque at 16ft," a peaceful song in which he sings about his view from underwater. There are vague hints of suicide or death, but overall the song is majestic in its peacefulness and simplicity. - Daniel Hopkins
98. Old 97's, "Timebomb" With an opening riff that sounds like Billy Zoom playing a Carl Perkins song, this classic Old 97's tune understandably registers with people to this day. A staple of the band's repertoire since it was written, Rhett Miller's smooth vocal delivery works perfectly over a busy, train-kept-a-rolling rhythm section. - Eric Grubbs
97. Devin the Dude, "Doobie Ashtray" Devin uses the minor annoyance of discovering a guest took the last bit of herb from an ashtray to illustrate how frustrating it is to lose something and be left with nothing, whether it's as big as a yacht or as small as some pot. - Jesse Hughey
96. Baboon, "Night of the Long Knives" As heavy as it is melodic, urgent and noisy, this was always a crowd favorite during Baboon's frequent shows back in Denton's glorious '90s. It could have been some kind of fight anthem, but the guys in the band seemed too nice to inspire anything more serious than some moshing -- if a pit could keep up with the blazing guitar. - Jesse Hughey
95. Lyle Lovett, "She's No Lady, She's My Wife" While Lovett's catalog is bursting with examples of clever word play, this song's sly humor is about as good as it gets. - Doug Davis
94. At the Drive-In, "One Armed Scissor" Many screamo bands have attempted to make something as good as At the Drive-In's material, but you can't argue with an original. - Eric Grubbs
93. Lil Keke ft. Paul Wall and Bun B, "Chunk Up The Deuce" Under the tutelage of Michael "5000" Watts, Swishahouse became one of the preeminent independent Houston labels at the height of America's obsession with everything grain-gripping and syrup-sipping. With its drum patterns and daunting keys, Lil Keke's "Chunk Up The Deuce" eventually became one of the most memorable songs from the period. - Austin Staubus
92. Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Pride & Joy" "Pride & Joy" was Texas Flood's most enduring track. The song's blues-rock riff hides a bit of improvisation, reminding listeners that guitar solos didn't have to be compartmentalized and predictable. - Shahryar Rizvi
91. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, "Richter Scale Madness" From their 1998 self-titled debut, this song stands out more for the fire they put into it live. A Trail of Dead show could always end in chaos, and if you Google this song, you'll see proof of how many times it did. - Audra Schroeder
90. The Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready To Make Nice" This song not only pushed them farther away from the country establishment they had grown to hate as much as it hated them, it offered an intelligent and sincere response to those haters. Oh, and it helped the Chicks sweep the Grammys in 2007. - Kelly Deamore
89. Polyphonic Spree, "Soldier Girl" A few years ago, I was patrolling CD Source for an album with a friend. 2002's The Beginning Stages Of... was playing in the background of the busy store, yet the flutey, weird chorus caught both of us. - Nick Rallo
88. Scratch Acid, "Owner's Lament" Remember when Scratch Acid had a violin in one of their songs? - Audra Schroeder
87. Nomads, "Be Nice" This '60s Fort Worth foursome share a name with several other aggregations, most notably some sonically similar '80s Swedes, and included future jazz guitarist Bill Ham. "Be Nice" is notable for the most blood-curdling shriek ever uttered by a 15-year-old boy while his mother waited in a station wagon outside the recording studio. - Ken Shimamoto
86. Spoon, "The Way We Get By" Between the song's personality, Britt Daniel's rascally croon and the gloriously off kilter aesthetic that would soon come to define the band, "The Way We Get By" will forever be Spoon's crowning achievement, a timeless Polaroid of the Texas pop legends at the tip of their creative summit. - Zach Hale
85. Woodeye, "The Fray" Few outside Fort Worth heard this cow-punk quartet, which contributed a guitarist and drummer to Hayes Carll's band. Frontman Carey Wolff's songs have been known to reduce strong men to public tears, rendering the seamy side of romance with a novelist's eye for resonant detail. - Ken Shimamoto
84. Meat Loaf, "I Would Do Anything For Love" There were three very important cassette tapes in my collection when I was a kid: Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice Baby"; Garth Brooks, In Pieces; and Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell II. When my parents were out, I used to jam the tape in the player, wheel the volume to crackling levels and absolutely lose it. We're talking leg-kicking with untied tennis shoes, fist-to-sky rock dancing. - Nick Rallo
83. The Telefones, "Rocket Rocket" Brothers Jerry and Chris Dirkx were the leaders of The Telefones, and "Rocket Rocket" came off the Dallas group's 1980 debut, Vibration Change. Another important track from that album was "The Ballad of Jerry Godzilla," but "Rocket Rocket" was the song that always kept me coming back to the album and the band. - Darryl Smyers
82. The Hugh Beaumont Experience, "Eric's on Thorazine" Way back in 1980 in Fort Worth, Brad Stiles and some other disaffected teens (including future Butthole Surfers drummer King Coffey) were making an awful punk rock racket under the banner of the Hugh Beaumont Experience. Supposedly written about Dead Kennedys frontman Eric Reed Boucher (aka Jello Biafra), "Eric's on Thorazine" was just one of the many wonderful gems found on Virgin Killers, a belated full-length released in 1993. - Darryl Smyers
81. Kashmere Stage Band, "Do You Dig It, Man" Conrad O. Johnson's band of students from Houston's Kashmere High School had several iterations, but his soulful arrangements never strayed from the Otis Redding sound that inspired him, and continues to inspire hip-hop producers and DJs. For more on their tale and Johnson's inspiring story, see Kashmere's reunion documentary, Texas Thunder Soul, narrated by another Texas son, Jamie Foxx. - Deb Doing Dallas
80. Butthole Surfers, "Sweat Loaf" Only The Butthole Surfers could rip off Black Sabbath and somehow make it sound better. - Audra Schroeder
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.